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September 05, 2018

Dodgeball: You’ve played the game. Meet the sport

You may not have played since your younger days but there is a whole world of dodgeball athletes out there…just waiting for you to rediscover your love. Dodgeball is a crazy exciting, action-packed game that will have you hooked all over again.

Explore dodgeball leagues, stories, advice, events and more on our Dodgeball activity page.

Remember the excitement of turning and twisting to avoid being hit by that speedy ball in the schoolyard? Now imagine that thrill amp’ed up as you see international level athletes from the world’s top dodgeball teams evade elimination at the 2017 World Dodgeball Championship: Toronto, Canada from October 18-21 at the Markham Pan Am Centre.

See the elite-level action from the 2017 World Dodgeball Championship in our Athlete Photo Gallery and Dodgeball Canada's video recap of the finals. Unbelievable action.


Why you should play

It’s not just that game you played in the schoolyard. The popularity of dodgeball is huge and is growing in many communities. Maybe it was the movie with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan – Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story – that will make you laugh until it hurts. But more likely it’s because dodgeball is just a fun, easy game to play – it’s accessible, requires little by way of equipment and you don’t need any particular skill level to be part of it.


You will find social leagues or if you are looking for a little more, there are elite leagues as well. Take your pick – just be sure to keep your eye on the ball.


Where this sport came from

Dodgeball was played in Africa over 200 years ago and it was definitely not the game that is played in the schoolyard today. Tribes played as a way to train its members for battle. It was played with rocks with the intention of incapacitating members of the other team. If a player was knocked down, it was up to his teammates to protect them until the game was over.


The game was eventually brought to Europe by a missionary who changed it from one of training to one of sport. Players used a leather ball, an open field, and the final blows were more humane for players. In 1905, Phillip Ferguson from Yale brought the game to the Americas and wrote up a set of rules – many of which are reflected in the game played today. American colleges picked up on the sport and have since inspired generations of children and adults to continue playing it today.


For more on dodgeball history, check it out here.



10 Basic rules of the game

The object of the game is to be the team with the last player standing. 


Duane Wysynski, President of Dodgeball Canada and World Dodgeball Federation offers a great list of 10 basic rules of the game to get you started.

1. A match consists of two teams of 6 players. The objective is to eliminate the other side by hitting them out or catching their throw.

2. There are 6 balls in play. At the opening of each game, players must rush to the centre line to retrieve the balls. Each team has three balls they can retrieve from the centre line.  

3. When a ball is caught, an eliminated player from the team catching the ball is allowed to return to play.

4. When all members of the team are eliminated, the opposing team wins the game. At the end of play time, the team that has wins the most games, wins the match.

5. A player can block an incoming ball with the ball they are holding, but if the blocked ball hits them or a teammate, they are out.

6. If a ball hits a player but is caught before hitting the ground or wall, the player is saved and the thrower is eliminated.

7. A hit on any part of the body is considered an out. It is legal to hit an opposing player in the face and head, but it is considered poor etiquette to do this intentionally.

8. A player can be eliminated in many different ways - they can be hit, their ball can be caught, they can step out of bounds, or they can step over the centre line.

9. The team with advantage has 10 seconds to throw a ball or they forfeit all balls to the opposing side. Advantage is determined by number of balls in possession, followed by number of players remaining, and then by the team that did not throw most recently.

10. The sport offers adaptations of its ruleset to accommodate kids, athletes with a disability, and different ball types.

For a detailed set of rules, head to Dodgeball Canada to find the Dodgeball Canada – World Dodgeball Federation Official Rulebook.


A video explanation of the rules: Learn the basics of Dodgeball in under 3 minutes


Video courtesy of Dodgeball Winnipeg


Playing court

Think of the dodgeball court like a smaller version of the volleyball court. There is a centreline that divides the court in half and lines all around the edges. The centreline is used to set the balls up for the opening rush. Players can step over the centreline for the opening rush but will be called out if they step over it in regular play.


Required equipment 

For the safety of all participants, players must wear proper gym clothes and proper footwear. Sandals, slippers, flip flops, and going barefoot is not recommended. Check your local league for specific information on what you need to wear to participate.




Obviously with greater awareness of the dangers of concussions, headshots are not considered part of fair play. Local leagues will likely have a statement about the use of headshots – the legality, whether you are out or in etc. – and possibly the consequence for repeat offenders of this rule.


Programs through Dodgeball Canada

Dodgeball Canada has information on programs of particular interest if you are looking for something a little more competitive. There is an interesting school program in place to help spread the word on how much fun this sport can be.


Find a league in your community

If you’re itching to find a dodgeball league to play in, search ‘dodgeball’ on our Athlete Advisor  - your online business directory for all things active. 


Watch a National Dodgeball Championship

The last national tournament was held April 13 to 15, 2018 in Winnipeg. The 2019 National Dodgeball Championships are yet to be awarded. Visit Dodgeball Canada’s website for updates on the future host province as they become available.



Meet Team Canada’s Women’s Squad

Dodgeball Canada selects and manages a women’s and men’s team each year that will compete in the World Dodgeball Federation tournament. Meet Team Canada’s 2018 Dodgeball Women’s Squad . Keep an eye out for 2018 World Championship details. This year's World Championship will be hosted by Dodgeball USA and will take place in Los Angeles, CA between October 9th - October 14, 2018


Dodge IN School

This program was developed under the Sport and Player Development portfolio to grow dodgeball at the grassroots level in Canadian schools. The program’s main objective is to educate Canadian students and staff about the sport through a fun, interactive and hands-on program.


Details on the Dodge IN School program – approach, program overview and contact for more information – are available on the Dodgeball Canada website.


Learn More Ways to DO from SWSCD

Interested in learning more about other sports and physical activities?  SeeWhatSheCanDo can help you do just that. We invite you to check out the links below.

Auto Racing: The ultimate women's guide to auto racing: Insights from champion racer Amanda Balson

Curling: Must-have tips and resources for beginners to high performance curlersCurling Fundamentals with Team Brandwood, and Fine tune your curling skills with Team Brandwood

Cycling: Mountain bike racing: From the perspective of a newbieLindsey Levin: New to mountain biking and to Pulse Racing's Women's 4 Hour MTB Relay and Ontario Women's Cycling Month: Celebrating IWD 2024 with Ontario Cycling

Dance: Beginner tips for aspiring adult dancers

Dodgeball: You’ve played the game. Meet the sport

Dragon Boat Racing: A great way to experience the spirit of teamwork

Fencing: En-garde: The three weapons of fencing

Fitness: The New Barre in Town: The workout that’s as fun as it is effective

Floor Hockey: Stouffville Ladies Floor Hockey: Delivering Local Floor Hockey Fun

Ice Hockey: Give sledge hockey a try: A guide to a hockey player’s first time in the sled and Learn to play hockey: Its never too late

Ice Skating: Learn to skate – it’s never too late! 

Martial Arts: This is how we really ‘roll’: busting myths and learning the (fun!) truth about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Outdoor Adventure: How to get started with rock climbing

Ringette: Diary of a ringette first-timer. Why you should give it a try

Rugby: Rugby 101: A quick start guide – Part 1Rugby 101: A quick start guide – Part 2 and A few reasons why your daughter should give rugby a try

Softball: It's all about the pitching: The three types of softball

Synchronized Swimming: Synchronized Swimming: From Tryouts to Competition Day



Check out Dodgeball Canada in our  Athlete Advisor – your online business directory for all things active. Rate and review your favourite dodgeball program or league. 


Find or start a group or event. Organize a league. Just have some fun with it. Visit our SWSCD Hub.


Explore fresh thinking, inspiring articles, and advice on our Dodgeball activity page.


Share your story about dodgeball directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando in your social media posts. 



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